Been quiet these days…

We’ve been rather quiet on this space. That’s because we have been travelling during the one-week school hols. So many things have happened and life has been pretty busy and interesting.

We just came back from a week-long vacation in Perth, Western Australia and there are so many things to update. First, let me catch some winks. ūüėČ

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Highlight of February

February has come to an end and we are marching on to March! How has your second month been?

My days have been long and filled with joy though there are still many times when frustration sets in. I have finally come to a state in which I could safely say I have settled, in being a SAHM. Yes, after four long years! All along, I have been questioning God why He has to call me out of my work to be a SAHM.

I wanted to teach! I love teaching and I thought this is what You have called me to do in the first place. Then why call me out?

I realised I do enjoy teaching both kids. Those days, when I was a teacher, my mind was filled with ideas to engage my students. Now, it’s happening too and my kids are my students now.

I got the boy to work with his fine motor skills a lot and to learn to concentrate when he’s on a task.

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I also attended a workshop conducted by an ex-colleague who is passionate about Math. The workshop on Early Childhood Numeracy has been helpful in getting me to start working with Faith on her number sense and to go deep into the concept. I hope to do up a blog post on that workshop soon!

After that workshop, I started to get her to work on her number sense more intentionally. You see, Faith got to do a lot of activities pertaining to language, geography and art which are my strength. I have not really touched on Math and Science though we include them in our daily lives. I guess from now on, I have to get her to work on them more intentionally.

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BSF commenced three weeks ago and both kids are in class as well. Dan adapted well. Praise God for that! Faith? She has been looking forward to BSF since last December so she’s happy to be back!

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Glad to be back on the machine after missing in action for a few months, all thanks to the busy school holidays. The hubs join me during the weekends (we try to make it into a routine) and I try to squeeze in a workout on one of the weekdays. The above is a rare occasion when I could meet up with a fellow mommy to work out together! Oh yes, and how could I forget to mention the Safari Zoo Run that the family participated? We had great fun!

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Family time is still very important and we try to create (hopefully fond) memories together. We have started to play more board games recently and thankfully, the girl likes it lots. Bible and prayer time is a routine now and when we skip bible reading, the girl will question so we’d better not forget!

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Recently, Faith started to pick up books and browse the pages. She has started to read simple readers on her own now and you can imagine my joy! Effort paid off! When she realised that she could read on her own, she wanted to continue to learn and read. Yay!

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This little man? He has evolved from a fussy eater to Mr Tamchiak and even refused to let me feed him. Okay, you go ahead and feed yourself. But oh, the mess! Thankfully, we have this EZPZ Happy mat. A post and giveaway is coming up soon!

So, that pretty much sums up our February. Hope yours is good!

Completion of our first Safari Zoo Run 2017

Over the weekend, our family participated in our very first Safari Zoo Run and it was indeed an enjoyable morning spent! We chose the 2.5km family dash because the girl was just 4 years old and we wouldn’t want to drag an exhausted girl all the way to the finish line. Moreover, we brought Daniel along. 5km run can wait.

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Our run was the last category to commence at 9.30am which is a comfortable time for young kids! However, that would mean that parking could be an issue. We made our way and reached an hour before the starting time but had a slight problem looking for a carpark lot. Thankfully, there was valet available.

img_7251Reached finally and all eager to start!

We were among the last few families to assemble at the start pen and were at the last wave to be flagged off. We had to wait for another 15 more minutes but it was all necessary due to safety reasons. This being the ninth year for the Safari Zoo Run, we could definitely count on the expertise of the organisers in making the run a smooth and safe one. Just imagine the bottlenecks if all of us started off at the same time.

Thankfully, the weather was superb that day.

Flag off! It was a pleasant start to the run because the participants were all gracious and friendly and looked out for one another. It was really a joy to see so many parents participating with their kids. Faith was all excited and started running in the beginning but slowed down soon after. We were expecting complaints and whines but thankfully, the animals distracted her!

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She got all excited along the way as she could view the various creatures. ‚ÄúMama, come and see! Look!‚ÄĚ So our family dash was interrupted by the need to gaze at the animals and you could just sense the kids‚Äô wonder and amazement. Daniel who was in the running stroller truly enjoyed the sights.There’s wasn’t much fuss from him. It is, after all, his first time to the zoo!¬†

Doesn’t look like a run at all! Families were stopping along the way to snap pictures!

Waterpoints that weren’t crowded

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I must remember to pack in snacks when we participate in a similar type of run the next time round because the kids cried for food after just 1km of activity.

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The family dash was truly an enjoyable experience for us. We met the lions, white tiger, kangaroos, monkeys, polar bear and many more which made our run a tad longer than expected. After we reached the finish line, the girl still wanted to see more of the animals which was totally possible since participants were entitled to free admission to the zoo and River Safari on that day. The Safari Zoo Run provided us with not just great family bonding opportunities but the chance to share with the girl about wildlife conservation.

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Did you know….

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And with that, we completed our first run for the year as a family! We had an awesome experience throughout. The collection of the race entry pack at Marina Square was smooth and fast and the race itself was fun and totally enjoyable. Well-organised. Thumbs up!

Oh yes, we even got to visit the Zoo-Rassic Park where the girl had been asking to visit. We certainly are looking forward to participate again! 

Disclaimer: HiVelocity Events has kindly sponsored our family with the Safari Zoo Run Race Slots so that we could experience the race for ourselves and share it with our readers. No monetary compensation is involved and all opinions are my own.

 

CNY 2017

And so Chinese New Year 2017 ended in a jiffy.

It came rather abruptly too. Before we could get a hang of the new year with its new schedule, we were ushered into the year of the Rooster. This year, I didn’t manage to purchase new clothes for the kids but thankfully they received new sets of hand-me-downs which served us fine. No time to bake CNY goodies but were given tubs of them from friends and aunt-in-law. No mandarin oranges too because my mom would not be celebrating CNY since my grandma passed on a few months back so my supply of the ‘kam’ was cut.

Still, we had our reunion dinner and the steamboat dinner by my mom was a meal I always look forward to since we only have this once a year.

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House visitation is something I DO NOT look forward to because it can be so tiring but surprisingly, I find myself enjoying a wee bit this year. Perhaps it’s because the kids enjoyed mingling with the relatives (even though they only meet once a year) or maybe because they were behaving all right. I couldn’t decide.

We did have fun. And our tummy kept exercising from all the CNY goodies that we consumed. Goodness!

But the highlight of this year’s CNY has to be the meetup with the folks of the youth fellowship whom I grew up with. Though I have moved on to another church, my friendship with them stays intact.

We had our worship session just like how we used to have when we were youths, we played the same old silly games and laughed our hearts out and we still share the same love for God and with one another. They are family indeed.

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These are the two brothers whom I look up to. Both are funny to the core but when it comes to the Word of God, it’s all seriousness.

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So much fun and laughter that night.

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Because it’s the year of the Rooster, I got Faith to paint a picture of a rooster figurine and since she’s into everything rainbow, she chose to paint it with multiple colours, just like the middle rooster figurine. She still couldn’t draw well but I invited her to draw some small parts of this picture, such as the beak and the crown. The objective of that ‘lesson’ is really to get her to blend the colours, something which I want her to continue to work on. I had wanted the little brother to join in the fun by getting them to do finger printing for the bottom part of the painting aka the ground but the brother was distracted by other stuff so in the end, Faith did everything. Mighty pleased with it. ūüėČ With guidance, of course.

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We ended CNY with a scrumptious dinner by the aunt-in-law. It’s a yearly affair for this beloved lady who would always present us with delicious homecooked food twice for CNY. Blessed, aren’t we?

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That basically sums up our CNY 2017. Hope you guys have had fun too!

[Friday Flips] #BabyLove: My Toddler Life

[Review + Giveaway]

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#BabyLove: My Toddler Life is an attractive picture book that depicts the life of a toddler in a technological age in which his life is recorded on social media.

Told from the viewpoint of the child, this story talks about his daily life with his mommy and the fun and learning both of them share. Seeing his mommy constantly using the mobile phone to take pictures of their daily account and posting them on social media, the toddler gets curious about the device and picks it up when mommy is not looking. He then fiddles with it and takes his own selfie, intending for mommy to share on social media. When his mommy finds him using her phone without permission, it’s the perfect teaching moment and she reminds the child that what matters most in life is time together filled with love and attention.

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[Source]

When I read this book for the first time, I thought this is actually targeted at parents as well and I can totally relate to the mommy because I do those activities all the time – recording what we do together and uploading the pictures for memories’ sake. Yet, there is a clear message to us all- to put down our phones when we are with our children and enjoy the moments with them.

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I love this book for its simple, rhyming narrative. The story isn’t long which is helpful for young children but the meaning is clear. Moreover, its bright and colourful illustration will certainly entice readers. Faith and I had a great time¬†as we read and discuss this book together. Sorry, there are no pictures of us because we just want to¬†enjoy that moment.

Good for children age 2 to 5 years old.

[GIVEAWAY]

Book Publicity Services has kindly agreed to gift one reader with #BabyLove: My Toddler Life. What you need to do:

  1. Like the post on my facebook page.
  2. Tag a friend whom you think would be interested in this book.

Simple? This giveaway is for local residents (Singapore) only and will end on 16 February¬†2017. A random participant¬†will be picked and we will then be sending him/her a copy of the book. All the best and¬†remember to put down the phone and enjoy your time with the kids! ūüėČ

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine unless otherwise stated.

 

Paul Klee and his artwork

Our ‘Art education’ at home continued with Paul Klee. I have yet to find an art class suitable for Faith so meanwhile, we will have to learn what we can through books and the Internet. Normally, I will scout the local libraries for children’s books on the particular artist, read to the girl and then explore the artist’s work with her. I’m not an Art teacher by training but I can always learn!

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The book that I used for this lesson is The Cat and the Bird¬†and the illustration is¬†based on Paul Klee’s work. My objective for this lesson is simple. I wanted Faith to observe how colours are being used in harmony and to apply it in the colouring of the cat which I drew the night before.

Faith is in this phase in which everything is colourful to her. If you are to ask her to complete a piece of colouring work, chances are it will resemble the colours of rainbow. For this lesson, I wanted her to observe how the colours blend and we used crayons for this task. Initially, she was doing well.

While the sister was doing work, the brother couldn’t be ignored, of course! It’s doodling time for him!

“Hey! Pay attention to what you are doing!”

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Before you know it, the girl continued the colouring, this time in multi-colours. She gave me all sorts of reasons why the cat should be full of colours. I wasn’t going to fight this battle. Besides, it’s her work. I’m just going to let her enjoy the process.

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There you have it. A colourful cat. Her version of Paul Klee’s The Cat and the Bird.

We continued with the next artwork called ‘Castle and Sun’. Here, I got Faith to observe how the artist used shapes and lines to create this piece. I could have asked her to cut out different shapes using coloured paper but decided that she could spend some time working on the designs that are to be cut into various shapes as buildings. We even took out the blocks to create a ‘castle’.

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By this time, the brother was tired out and needed to take a short nap. While I carried him to nap, the girl continued to her work. We couldn’t quite finish the second piece since she had to get ready for school and had to continue the following day .

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Each of our ‘art lessons’ takes about two hours and while it can get really messy with the toddler around, I must say it is also satisfying to see how the girl has progressed. My only hope is that I will remain calm and not think about the mess that could be created. Learning should be fun!

Blending of CVC words

Faith spent the whole of last year (in school) working on the blending of CVC words and I thought I should just record the resources that I used to help her with that for Dan’s sake.

We started off using Jolly Phonics for the individual sounds and then slowly worked on blending. Obviously, consistency works. In the earlier part of last year, I wasn’t that diligent and because she couldn’t blend well, I was rather discouraged and got her to do so only when I remembered it. Gradually, she got better, thanks to the effort of the school and that’s when I started to be more consistent.

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I’m sure many of us are familiar with the wonderful website of The Measured Mom. I found myself hardworking on a particular¬†day and decided to print these booklets for Faith. The sentences in these booklets are simple and highly achievable for Faith which is good because we want to build confidence in her (when she could read the books by herself).

One fine day, as I was shopping at Robinsons, I came across this set of cards from Leapfrog and knew that I had to purchase it. Faith has a leapreader and I thought it would complement her learning (independently). The cards were a great help because each day I worked on a specific set with her and it didn’t really take long to complete the exercise. Because we did that everyday, it became a routine.

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After she got better with the blending, we moved on to Bob books. I have a slight preference towards them because there is a little more storyline as compared to the ones which I downloaded from the internet. Each story is short and manageable and when the child finds that she is able to read the whole book by herself, she got motivated and wanted to read more. That happens to Faith. Before we start on each book, I went through the related set of words with her. This set of cards was gifted to me by a friend (hand-me-down) and some of my friends have asked me how they could get hold of it. I’m afraid I don’t have the answer but I have made a soft-copy of the set and they are available here –¬†cvcwords-2.

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I have arranged the sets based on their sounds¬†and it would be good to print each set on a different coloured sheet of paper, laminate and then cut them accordingly. In this way, they can last longer. ūüėČ

Oh yes, still on the topic of Bob Books, do you know there are free printables that are available online? This Reading Mama, another great site, has a good range of Bob Books printables that we can use and they can be found here.

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Another set of readers that I used is the Fitzroy readers¬†which I would use after Faith got more confident in blending the various sounds. For these readers, each story is longer and IMHO, the beginning reader might find it more ‘tedious’ to complete the story as compared to the Bob Books.

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Faith attends a Montessori preschool and I try to use the method in my homelearning effort as much as possible. I stumbled upon a great website which provides us with the necessary online materials for teaching using the Montessori approach. The question lies in whether I would have the time to create the materials and in using them faithfully. *shrugs shoulders*

Now that the girl is going on to consonant blends, I find myself playing catch-up and trying to relearn as much as possible so that I could teach her at home. *pant*

There are many phonics resources in the market and from the internet and many are good. I have learnt to use those that I’m comfortable with and be consistent with them. Consistency does pay off in the end.¬†

[Friday Flips] F’s rendition of Van Gogh’s Starry Night

After almost three weeks into 2017, we are more or less settled with the new schedule. The family is still coughing our way into the nights but at least we are on the road to recovery. Mornings are precious because those are the times when the kids are fresh and eager to learn. So far, we had fun doing grocery together, exercised and enjoyed our playground time, busied ourselves in the kitchen and had an artistic morning.

Faith has always indicated an interest in art and I have wanted to enrol her in some art classes. Alas, our last school holidays were so packed (with activities and rest and getting sick) that she didn’t get to attend any in the end. Despite that, we attempted to learn about artists and their works last month and I thought we should continue what we have started.

The next artist that we learnt about is Vincent Van Gogh.

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This book talks about how a boy followed the attitudes of the adults around him and bullied an eccentric painter (Van Gogh) before realising that there is more than one way to see the world when he met the painter face-to-face. I thought this book is one that helps to address bullying and how one ought to treat others. Our girl ‘catch no ball’ (couldn’t comprehend) although she got acquainted with Mr Van Gogh and his artwork through this book.

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The next book that we read was Katie and the Starry Night¬†which is definitely more interesting and enjoyable. We went through some of the paintings of Van Gogh such as Vincent’s Chair, Noon, The Olive Grove and Fishing Boats on the Beach before starting to work on her rendition of The Starry Night. The main materials that we used were square sponges, cotton buds and the heads of Bok Choy (because I was cooking them the night before).

Using the square sponges, she dabbed them in blue to paint the sky.

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The next stage is to use the cotton bud to create the swirls in white and yellow. This was when Dan came in. He could well have fun with it too!

After the paint had dried up a little, it’s time to put in the stars using the head of the¬†Choy. The design is lovely, isn’t it?

Lastly, I got Faith to cut out the houses from the corrugated paper and pasted them on the artwork.

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This took us the whole morning (plus playground time while waiting for the paint to dry up a little) but we were all satisfied at the end of it.

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We love the Katie’s adventure series a lot and thankfully our libraries stock them. You can read more about Monet’s works through Katie and the Waterlily Pond!

Which artist shall we touch on next?

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Delectable Chinese New Year set dishes at Gu Ma Jia

[Media invite]

Chinese New Year is approaching! Have you make plans for this year’s reunion dinner? If you don’t want the hassle of cooking (and washing up of dishes) at home and wanted to just enjoy a scrumptious meal with your loved ones, do consider the Chinese New Year sets available at Gu Ma Jia, won’t you?

I had my first food tasting at Gu Ma Jia a few years back and I remember the food fondly because the dishes were fresh and of quality  and cooked just like the way my mom does. By that I mean the food was not too salty, too oily or laden with MSG. They were just authentic homecooked food.

For this coming Chinese New Year, Gu Ma Jia has come up with two sets namely ‘Peace’ and ‘Prosperity’ as if to remind us to spread peace and love between one and another while sharing our prosperity. ūüėČ

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We had the opportunity to taste some of the dishes last month and again, Gu Ma Jia has won our hearts.

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The Ginseng Fortune Chicken is made up of ¬†double boiled chicken, roasted pork, scallops, sea cucumber and fish maw with ginseng in a claypot. The overall result is a bowl of rich soup that will definitely bring a smile to everyone’s faces. You feel good just by knowing the premium ingredients that go into this dish. This is really good!

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I love broccoli that is cooked right. At Gu Ma Jia, this vegetable is cooked perfectly and brillantly paired with macadamia nuts and fresh scallop. The crunchiness of the nuts adds a fresh perspective to the usual broccoli, carrots and scallop combination that we so often tasted in restaurants. This dish is light (not heavy on sauce) and I could taste the goodness of the individual ingredient in its authentic form.

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One of the ways to test ¬†if the ingredients served at a restaurant are fresh, order the seafood. These Stir Fry Prawns with Superior Sauce are so succulent that the usual I-don’t-like-to-peel-prawns me went ahead to undress them, just by using the power of the teeth and chopsticks. Fresh prawns are easy to shell, so they say.

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I don’t think I need to mention about the freshness of this Steamed Red Grouper. This will be a dish which will be a hit with my mom who LOVES fish and is done just the way she likes it. It is truly fresh and it’s not a surprise since the ingredients are handpicked and quality checked by Gu Ma herself. I even packed the reminder of this dish so that I could make fish porridge with it. Don’t waste the meat and the sauce!

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Normally I try to avoid Fried Noodles because they made me feel so stuffed. But this plate of noodles didn’t. I was told that this is a special type of noodles and it’s light on the stomach and I find myself going for second helping. Delectable!

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Dessert is¬†¬†this yummy¬†Longan Wolfberries Sea Bird Nest which I like and appreciate. After having eaten all the delicious food, it’s always good to have something light and refreshing and this is not too sweet, which is good! Just the natural goodness will do!

Besides these two CNY sets, Gu Ma Jia also offers a special ala-carte menu during this festive season and they feature Gu Ma’s signature dishes and exclusive Chinese New Year delicacies.

 

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For the complete list of the ala-carte menu, they can be found here.

Do note that there will be session timings for the set menu on the actual day of the Reunion Dinner on 27th Jan 2017:
:: 1st session 12pm ‚Äď 2pm
:: 2nd session 2.15pm ‚Äď 4.15pm
:: 3rd session 6pm ‚Äď 7.45pm &
:: Last session 8pm ‚Äď 9.45pm

In case you are uninformed, you can also have Gu Ma Jia’s delicacies delivered to your doorstep okay? Do check their website if you are interested!

Gu Ma Jia
45 Tai Thong Crescent
Sennett Estate Singapore 347866

Phone: +6285 2023

 

Dan @ 15 months old

Dear Dan

You turned 15 months old today and in this past month, we saw you really walking independently. You gained confidence daily as you practised your walking and now you don’t need us to hold your hand that often.

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For a while, I was wondering what took you so long to begin walking and now…

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It gets easier to feed you now because you are more open to eating other types of food, and that include ours! You heavily relied on pureed food for the past few months and now you are eating porridge and even rice. You still don’t like meat but I guess I would have to slowly introduce them to you. You love bread and could have them for your three meals but of course, that won’t do! Now, it seems you want to self-feed and mama has to close both eyes for you to do that. Just imagine the mess! But it’s all part of learning, isn’t it?

We stay home most of the time and that are so many things to do such as painting, doodling, scooping of pom pom balls and threading. You love to explore every nook and corner of the house and then you will pull out the drawers and take out whatever containers you can find in there. Basically, messing up the place is your past time. Arghh…

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You love to explore, just like your sister and you are not afraid to try new things! May you continue to possess such a spirit!

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Bubbles! Who doesn’t love them? Mama loves to see you enjoy yourself and you don’t seem to be afraid of strangers, especially when your sister is around.

You love the playground a lot and enjoy these rides! When we are at your sister’s school, you will find your way to these rides, sometimes wandering off without me!

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You share your sister’s love for Sandra Boynton’s book – Moo, Baa, La La La – and got equally amused, like your sister. We could enjoy many of her books because a fellow mommy so generously loaned them to us. Thank God for her.

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You love to play with water. Maybe we should get you to go to the pool more regularly eh?

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I wish you could nap and sleep more. It’s really difficult to get you to rest and I’m not sure why. Aren’t you tired? I have to say that we are all tired out by you. Could you please cooperate a wee bit?

Having said that, we still thank God for you, a precious gift from God.

Sweet and sticky chicken

How’s first day of school for you?

For us, we have to adhere to a new routine since the girl is in afternoon session and that means she would have to do without a nap. Naturally, she came back tired and a little cranky. The boy was disrupted in his naps and that means…a fussy toddler.

4pm. I could sense their restlessness and I got a bit nervous. I know that I have to rush out dinner fast so that they could go to bed early.

Then I remember this dish which I have made and which I have forgotten to record after testing the recipe out. I made this sweet and sticky chicken years ago using honey but this time round, I decided to use Ribena and see if I could create a ‘new’ recipe with it. Thankfully, it really works well and the sweet and sticky chicken is a hit with the family.

In times when you have to churn out dinner fast, remember this recipe. You would need to marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours (which you can do so the night before). After that, it’s just putting the chicken into the oven and bake. Top it up with rice or quinoa and some greens on the side and you have a great meal. I’ve used the recipe on pork ribs too and they are equally delicious (at least, that’s what my guests told me).

Share Food Singapore made a video on this for chicken wings. Do take a look if you are interested (embedded in this post). Chicken wings are good on the menu for a party!

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Ingredients (feed 3 hungry pax)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar/ chiang kiang vinegar
1/4 cup ribena cordial
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, halved
3 chicken legs
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
corainder leaves for garnishing

1. Combine the balsamic vinegar, ribena cordial, brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic cloves in a large ziplock bag. Shake and squeeze the contents of the bag to dissolve the ribena and the brown sugar. Add the chicken legss to the bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 230C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil.

3. Remove the chicken legs from the bag, reserving the marinade and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the skin is caramelised and very dark in spots, 30 to 35 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, place the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes.

5. Use a pastry brush to brush some of the cooked marinade on the cooked chicken. Place the chicken on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the chopped parsley.

6. Serve with quinoa or rice.

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With quinoa for the more health conscious me.

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And… rice for the rest of the family

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ūüėČ

Hello 2017!


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Good morning to a brand new year! We are off to somewhere! Guess where?

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To the Botanic Gardens we go! This year, I hope that we will be in the outdoors more as a family, to learn and explore!

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Learning takes place everywhere and every moment. So don’t waste the opportunity! There’s so much in nature that we can learn. I only hope that we have the patience and knowledge to share with the kids.

This year, I want to continue to focus on relationship – God, husband, children, immediate family members, friends (new and old). So, yes, I want to make time for them.¬†My family is important to me and I want to invest my time, effort and resources on them. I have chosen to be a SAHM and I want to stay focused on my calling and STOP thinking about venturing into other areas. It’s not fair to anyone if I don’t do a good job in the various areas that I am involved¬†in.

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I want to give more attention to Dan this year. I hadnt’t been able to give a lot of my time to¬†him last year and his development hasn’t been as good as the sister. There shouldn’t be any comparison but to be honest, he is spoken less to, read less to, taught less and less stimulated. There is always the guilt in me but it hadn’t been a smooth ride last year. So I hope I could concentrate on him more this year.

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Needless to say, I will still continue to work on the girl but at the same time I’ll get¬†the girl to teach the boy. It’s time for her to impart some of her knowledge to her brother and one learns more when she teaches. Since the girl would be in the afternoon session this year,¬†I hope to utilise weekdays’ mornings well.

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I’ll be more diligent and work on teaching and learning resources. I mean, as a teacher, I have to come up with lesson plans and related resources. Now that I’m a teacher to my kids, I should be equally diligent, if not more!

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As a family, we will still be attending¬†BSF and this year, I hope to have small scale family devotion on the materials given by BSF rather than to be doing it on an ad-hoc basis. Faith could sit through longer stories and I want to read more biblical stories to her this year. For family worship, we could sing worship songs together. The hubs will play the piano and the rest will sing. It’s time to be intentional about teaching her gospel songs and not merely leave it to her to learn by listening.

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I want to save more for the family and that means we intentionally don’t eat out that often and even if we have to, we will go to the hawker centres and coffeeshops more often.

The other day, the hubs and I were discussing about some financial issues after a recent talk which I have attended. He mentioned that if we want to model thrift, we should eat out at restaurants LESS often. I agree.

I need to start teaching Faith about the value of money and shall start this year. Will write more on this (if I have the time).

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Direct application: So we stopped by Food for Thought for playground time and knowing me, I would normally order a drink or small bite. But today I decided not to. We will just (shamelessly) use the playground and not spend unnecessarily.

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I’m still trying to figure out Faith’s interests. I don’t think I will get Faith to have music lesson unless she specifically asks for it or that I could find a good teacher. I’m not even sure what I want F to learn. I can expose her but till now I don’t know what instrument she wants to learn although she is still keen on¬†ukelele.

I will concentrate on sports because that is the area the adults are interested in too¬†and thus could motivate them a wee bit.¬†Swimming for both, hiking, frisbee, cycling, in-line skating, rock wall climbing, ‚öĹÔłŹ…

Oh yes, they do need to play and pray more.

Personally, I want to read more and enrich myself. I do think that my language ability has deteriorated over the years. I could no longer write fluently and at times, I need more confidence to speak. Of course I’m all right when it comes to casual talks with my peers but it’s a different story if you ask me to present before a crowd. Maybe I should really sign up for a course eh?

So yea, these are my quick thoughts for 2017.

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Some food-for-thought.
[Source]Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-school years

Goodbye 2016

I was telling my hubs that 2016 seemed like a blur to me. Each day, I was so busy that there wasn’t much time to pause and reflect, let alone read. I wasn’t updated on news or what’s happening to my friends because every moment when the kids were awake, I had to be with them or be in the kitchen churning out food.

Yet, I know 2016 was jam-packed with activities and memories both good and bad. I had a wonderful time teaching Faith and loathe the fact that she would be in K1 next year and before I know it, she would enter Primary School and my time with her would be minimised…by a lot. I felt sad just¬†by thinking of that. Many times, I toy with homeschooling my kids but I also know my patience would be greatly tested and perhaps in the end, I would morph into a witch. So, for now, the answer is ‘NO’.

2016 is a year of making new friends and deepening the friendship of old ones. I would never have imagined that I could make friends at my age and that we could get along so well. But yet, God knows what I need and granted me some good company and for that, I’m immensely thankful.

I managed to get a few sponsorships and media invites this year which made my life more interesting. I’m truly thankful for these collaborations but come 2017, I would love to focus more on homelearning and reading to upgrade myself. I¬†thought of enrolling myself in some online Montessori or early childhood courses but again, the fear of the lack of time prevents me from moving ahead.

This year, however, the hubs and I dedicated our time to learning more about raising kids when we attended the 15-week-long course (GKGW) and also a family seminar by the Tripp which helped me view parenting from God’s perspective. Parenting is tough and we desperately need God’s grace to bring up the children in His ways.

I wonder how 2017 would be like…

[Friday Flips] Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age

[Review + Giveaway]

I’ve been reading this book for over a month now and have been reflecting as much. It got me thinking about my own parenting style and how my views on education have changed¬†since becoming a parent.

Beyond the Tiger Mom: East West Parenting for the Global Age reads like a research paper that is backed by the author’s own experience as a teacher in the US and Singapore, her own¬†Asian heritage which shapes her parenting beliefs, interviews with Asian parents and educational research.

This is such a good read and one that causes parents to reflect on their parenting, education and family beliefs.

The author accurately described the mentality of the Asian moms and I couldn’t help but agree with what she wrote. Being an Asian mom myself, I find myself feeling anxious about getting my children to start reading at an early age and therefore find ways to create a math-rich home so that they could understand concepts early and find math in their daily lives. She also provided an honest glimpse into the lives of students in Singapore, those whose schedules are filled with tuition and enrichment classes. Is tuition necessary? The author managed to give a balanced view on that and causes readers to reflect on its purpose and if there is a need for their own children to go through that kind of ‘lifestyle’.

As a person who has grown up and taught in the US, the author was able to provide readers with the western perspective to parenting and education and marrying both eastern and western beliefs, she could give a balance view on them. My reflection as a mom is to question what is good for my children and how to parent them in this global age based on what she has shared in her book.

Questions which I find myself asking:
:: Is early math important and what can I do to build a math-rich home?
:: How to create a reading culture in my home such that my children would love reading
:: Phonics vs whole language – there could be a balance
:: There is value in individualised instruction, especially for those who need coaching at a pace that’s best for them but would I be found sending my kids for tuition just so that they would not lose out to their peers?
:: Our generation of children is brought up in a digital age. How can we benefit from the use of technology without getting addicted to it?

Of particular help are the tips that she gave at the end of each chapter, on how we we could build a math-rich, language-rich home, how to help our children memorise information and encourage critical thinking skills, how to supplement our children’s education, among others.

It’s truly a book to grab and read and then be thrust into a state of reflection.

About the author

PrintA global citizen, Maya Thiagarajan has lived and worked in India, Singapore, and the US. She earned a BA in English from Middlebury College and a Masters in Education Policy from Harvard University.

Maya began her teaching career with Teach For America, where she taught at a public school in Baltimore City for two years. She went on to teach high school English at some of America’s most prestigious independent schools. After a decade of teaching in the US, Maya moved to Singapore and began teaching at The United World College of South East Asia (UWC).

Struck by the different approaches to education and parenting that she encountered in Singapore, Maya began to interview Chinese and Indian parents living in Singapore. Using her own experiences as well as the stories of parents whom she interviewed, Maya wrote a book titled Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age. [Source]

[GIVEAWAY]

Book Publicity Services has kindly agreed to gift one reader with Beyond the Tiger Mom: East West Parenting for the Global Age. What you need to do:

  1. Like the facebook post
  2. Comment on why you would like a copy of the book

Simple? This giveaway is for local residents (Singapore) only and will end on 6 January 2017. A random participant will be picked and we will then be sending him/her a copy of the book. All the best and have a great year ahead!

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book and I chose to give a review of it because it really is a good read and I hope many could benefit from it. All opinions are mine unless otherwise stated.

Memories are made of these…

How do you preserve memories? Through photos, no?

I like to take pictures and the number of them increases by leaps and bounds when the kids came along. Is it the same for you? And it most definitely warms my heart as I browse the photos taken in the past. Awww…memories!

Recently, Canon threw a cozy Christmas gathering to a group of families and gifted us with some precious presents – wonderful time with families and sweet memories in the form of pictures, the printed way.

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When we first arrived, we spent some time with the young ones over duplo and painting of cardboard boxes. Faith has always loved Lego and Duplo so it’s no wonder that she found her way to the blocks.

We were then introduced to the new Canon PIXMA TS8070 printer and were invited to have some family fun with it! Before that, each family was gifted with a picture frame that is made of of photographs of our loved ones. Oh, dear Canon, you have done it again! What a thoughtful and meaningful gift!

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We were definitely excited as we unwrapped the gift.

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How lovely! Pictures of our daily life from our Instagram account! The kids and I were thrilled and I was personally captivated by the quality of the print. We were later told that we could try our hands on the printer and to experience its ease of use. Yay!

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These are the printers that made those pictures possible! If you observe, they are not really bulky because they are designed to fit small offices and homes in form and function so they are in a sleeker form to blend seamlessly into our study or home office.

We wasted no time in printing our photos! Since many of my photos are in squares for Instagram and Dayre purposes, I’m thankful that these printers could print them without the need for resizing. Very convenient! And because the Canon PIXMA TS8070 printers are¬†designed for easy set-up in a wireless environment, we¬†can readily print the pictures from our mobile phones and tablet PCs in¬†out-of-home environments such as weddings and parties. Think photo booths!

Other ideas (for own reference):

  • craft for playdates
  • homelearning materials
  • souvenirs for home parties or celebration
  • wedding
  • travel scrapbook

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Faith and I used the photos that we have printed to do some craftwork and made a photo album from the materials that were supplied to us. It was a good bonding session!

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Ta-da! Is this nice? I’m really impressed by the quality of the print! We can definitely do lots more craftwork with these prints and ¬†could even design and print our own customised cards. Best is they are reasonably priced at $299!

The family had a wonderful and meaningful time with Canon Singapore that day. Thank you for inviting us and giving us the opportunity to ‘play’ with the printers. The following are some precious moments captured that day by the good folks at Canon. I thought I should park them here for my own keepsake. ūüėČ

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Here’s wishing you a blessed Christmas, from the Queks!

Our family was invited by Canon Singapore and¬†Claudia of The Loving Mom¬†to this Christmas party. Photographs used in this post belong to Canon Singapore. The ones in squares are squarely mine. ūüėČ

Christmas with the Queks – 2016 edition

It has become a tradition, that we dress up a real Christmas tree during that time of the year. For the past few years, we have involved Faith in the activity but she wasn’t that keen. This year, her enthusiasm showed.

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Somehow, I find that she has matured a lot over the past one year. Is it because she has an added responsibility as a sister? Or is it just an age thing? In the above, she was trying to sharpen her colour pencils and the brother meddled with them because he wanted to be involved, just like his sister.

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Busy bee…

This year, she was the main person doing up the tree. The adults were resting by the side, watching her dress the tree up. So focused but the tree was heavily decorated on one side only!

Dan wanted to help too and managed to put up some of the decorations. He was mighty pleased with himself!

Are you ready for Christmas?

Label with Stickerkid

[Review + discount code]

About two more weeks to go before school reopens. Have you bought the school supplies and label them?

By labelling, I mean with your child’s name. And I consider quality as the main thing I would look for in choosing a label.

Thus far, I have used two brands and love both because of their quality and design. Unfortunately, the first brand has been discontinued but thankfully, the second one is still around.

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Stickerkid has been around since 2004 and all their products are made in Switzerland. They only use the highest quality materials for their labels and each of them is protected with a thin plastic layer to ensure that their products withstand any challenge that come their way.

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Prior to their invitation to review their labels (was given a test package), I have already been using them for a year and can attest that their labels last. The thin plastic layer that I mentioned earlier does protect the label and it doesn’t come off, unlike some of the labels which I have come across.

Another thing which I like about Stickerkid’s labels is our ability to customise the design, like many other labels out there. We can choose the colour of the sticker, the font size, type and colour and the cute logo that goes¬†onto the label. Oh yes, you can also add in the chinese characters, if you want.

Source: Stickerkid

I thought these labels are good and practical as Christmas gifts to the kids. I mean, they will certainly come in useful when school reopens eh? These labels are dispatched in 24 hours once purchased.They will be in time for Christmas as gifts!

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Besides stickers, they also have removable and permanent iron-on labels for clothes. They really have a good range of labels. Do check it out!

Stickerkid discount code
[Valid until 24 December 2016]

Stickerkid is offering a 10% discount¬†on their products for Raising Faith’s readers. Enter the coupon code “Sticker7z” when you check out. However, do note that the¬†discount code is only valid till 24¬†December 2016 and does not include shipping and handling charges.

img_4079“Don’t miss the opportunity to save! Happy shopping!”

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Website : http://www.stickerkid.sg/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/stickerkid.english/

Patience needed


It was a fine evening. The weather was great and the children yearned to go outdoors.

We did that and got the girl to bring her bicycle along so that she could practise riding it.

The hubs and I took turns but I ended up getting frustrated.

Frustrated that her feet kept slipping off from the pedals. Frustrated that she kept looking down while trying to balance instead of looking straight ahead.

Less-than-encouraging words departed from my tongue and attacked her. In exasperation, she stopped in her tracks and screamed.

I have hurt her.

Oh, what an impatient mom I am. That was only her second time learning to ride the bicycle. What was I expecting? That she could get it in two attempts?

It’s time to do a bit of self-reflection.

Fun with scissors: Cutouts with Henri Matisse

I had wanted to sign Faith up for some art classes during this hols but because of her cough, I had to stop the plan; I don’t want her to spread germs to the other children. So, I would have to scout for ideas for art and I thought reading about the lives of artists and learning about their art forms would be a good way to start. It’s pinterest to the rescue once more and I found some interesting resources that I could use.

After listing down some artists, I searched the catalogue of the local libraries and I’m so happy that there are good children’s books on artists.

The first artist that Faith and I learnt about is Henri Matisse who was famous for his cutouts later in his life. We read these three books to get to know the artist more and all three can be found in the Junior Lending Picture Books’ section in the (selected) libraries.

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After reading, I selected some key words to go through with Faith. She could sound out CVC words but I thought there’s no harm in getting her to learn some new words.

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Prior to the ‘lesson’, I drew some squares and rectangles on a drawing paper so that she could paint on them.

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It’s interesting to observe the colours she chose and how she painted the shapes. I tried not to interfere but to allow her to enjoy the process but…

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While waiting for the paint to dry, I got her to imagine and cut out any shapes she¬†could think of. The girl loves to cut but she often cuts the paper into small pieces. This time round, I requested that she be bold and cut big curvy shapes and guided her into cutting them. She wasn’t comfortable and wasn’t too keen to do so but at least she tried, for some.

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After that it’s pasting time! I wanted her to pair contrasting colours together just as Mr Matisse did.

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Almost done! Since she was the artist behind this piece of art, she must sign off!

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Our first lesson on the study of Henri Matisse and cutouts!

Related and useful resources:
:: Painting with scissors: Kids study Matisse
:: In the style of – Henri Matisse

 

Busy tables, busy cards

[Review + Giveaway]

Busy tables. Any idea what they are about?

When I first got an email to preview Busy Cards at Busy Tables, I was curious and wondered what this was about. I have apparently not heard of Busy Tables and my first impression was some kind of cafes that could cater to kids and provide them with a set of tasks while dining in.

I was wrong. Just a little.

Busy Tables is located at Rochester Mall and is an indoor educational playground suitable for children under 6 years of age. Educational ? Yes. You will find that the setup is different as compared to the indoor playgrounds that we commonly go to. Here, you will find educational toys and resources that encourage children to use their senses to explore.

As we entered, I was asked to have Faith explore the various spaces and toys at Busy Tables. The girl got busy instantly. There were toys which she had played with before and there were also those that she was really interested in like car tracks and rainbow nesting wooden block stacker.

There was minimal guidance from me but she was totally engrossed in those that she was interested in; she was trying to make sense of the toys.

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Then there was this dark room that really attracted her attention and she stayed in there for the bulk of our time at Busy Tables. I’m quite certain that was the first time that she has ever seen a light box and with so many toys to play with, who would want to come out?

We must have sat there for quite a while until one of the staff at Busy Tables came over and tell me more about this indoor educational playground and Busy Cards. Essentially, they hope that parents could learn and bond with their children through working with the resources. They believe that children learn best from their parents and thus create such an environment for them to learn and have fun together.

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I was then introduced to Busy Cards which is an assortment of curated cards which give children¬†‘missions’ to complete. As can be seen from the picture, there is a variety of activities that involves literacy, numeracy, fine-motor and problem solving skills.¬†The cards and missions are divided into various stages and tiers to pose as incremental challenges to them. It is hoped that children could acquire the discipline to concentrate on a task as they work together with their parents and to learn to keep and return each set of resources back to their original postion. Good habits, I say!¬†These cards also assist parents to explore the many resources available at BusyTables. ūüėČ

If you find the activities on the card given to your child to be on the easier or more difficult side, you can definitely ask for one that suits your child more.

The girl was very motivated to want to complete six activities because upon completion of those tasks, she could get a coin token to play on the slot machine (she loves it!). And, it’s no surprise that she chose to work on the activities that were found in the dark room.

If you look through the resources at Busy Tables and scan the Busy Cards, you would find that you might have some of them at home. For us, we have some of the puzzles and toys that are found there. Obviously, we do not have all and I definitely won’t be able to recreate the dark room in my home ( I don’t want to do it). I would think that this is a good place to hang out if you want to spend some¬†quality time with your child and to have¬†him/her do some¬†“brain work”.

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We saw a group of mothers and children having a playdate while we were there and I thought that is a brilliant idea. I mean, all the resources are there and you don’t have to spend time making resources.

According to the staff of Busy Tables, the peak hours are in the morning, early afternoon and evening. There are fewer people between 1 to 4pm and you guess it right! It’s nap time! So if your kids don’t need to nap, that period is the best time to go! If you are curious about the pricing, you can refer to this on their website.

[Giveaway] Busy Tables has kindly agreed to give FIVE passes to readers of Raising Faith (residents of Singapore only)! Hooray! ¬†All you need to do is to comment on this post or on Raising Faith Facebook Page who you would like to bring to Busy Tables and do¬†leave your email address for us to contact you! ūüėČ

You can find out more about Busy Tables via their website or facebook page. The giveaway will end on 16 December 2016 and I would announce the winners on my Facebook Page and IG account.

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All the best!

A year older…

I turned one year older this day ¬†and both my kids were not feeling in tip-top condition. It wasn’t anything serious but they have been coughing for weeks and I wanted them to fight it. But Faith had a pair of swollen eyes on Sunday evening, complaint of stomachache and ear ache that night and broke out in rashes all over her body yesterday. It’s time to visit the doc. Both of them.

We had wanted to visit her in the morning but we were too early and decided to go for a hike. So it’s to the tree top walk we went!

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It’s Faith’s first hike and we had to manage our expectation, that it would be a pretty slow walk.

Don’t think a stroller can do a good job and it’s babywearing for Dan! He looked displeased but actually I think it’s comfy because he fell asleep minutes into the walk.

The city girl was amazed by the nature and stopped every few minutes to exclaim over the slightest thing. Ants, leaves imprinted on the board walk, sounds in the nature, the canopy… There’s so much to explore in nature!

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This teacher in me will use every opportunity to teach. Signboards on the way are good teaching aids.

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As expected, the girl grew weary about 2.5km into the walk. But hey, that’s a good start for a 4YO!

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We had to think of ways to energise her. Singing gospel songs help! Or pretend that you are a superhero!

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We made it! But this was only the halfway mark!

On the return leg, everyone’s tired. Faith couldn’t walk any longer and needed to be carried. Thankfully, we could always treat her like a backpack.

We took 3 hours to complete the 6km walk. Tired but happy would be my description for that morning. I’ve always loved the outdoors and it’s definitely wonderful to be able to so on my birthday.

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That evening, we made it to the doctor all right. It’s viral infection, as diagnosed by the doc. The swell and rashes are symptoms of the infection. Dan’s cough was worse than Faith because his immunity was weaker.

Both are on antibiotics now.

This birthday, all I want is for my family to be in good health. Not too much to ask for eh? ūüėČ

Oh yes, if you are keen to participate in the Safari Zoo Run 2017, do take note that the early bird rate extension is till 9 Dec 2016 and do remember to use the code SZR2017BGPRFAITH10 for a further 10% discount. This unique code is valid till 15 January 2017.

Sending sweet treats the Sophisca way

If you are looking for Christmas gifts that are practical and cute at the same time, head down to Sophisca! It is Taiwan’s very first specialty candy brand that was started in 1997 and has since established itself as Taiwan’s beloved and top confectionery retailer. Sophisca’s saccharine staples are an array of candied fruits, soft bonbons, chocolates and more!

Last weekend, the family headed down to its media preview of their Christmas collection at Marina Square and yours truly went a little crazy over their very adorable packaging. Thankfully, their prices are really reasonable so I didn’t burn a big hole in the pocket when I left.

These Christmas Reindeer and Santa gift boxes are only $4.90 each.

The daughter had a good time trying out their candies and she had reached her quota of sweet treats that day.

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These are at $11.90 each.

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This is my favourite corner. Just look at the designs on the boxes. And some are really local-flavoured with our beloved Singlish words on them.

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I purposely chose some of these to give to a Taiwanese family who will be leaving Singapore for good. They have always been fascinated by our colloquial English so I thought these are apt. There are three slices of chocolates in each box ($2.90 per box).

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Sidetrack. The girl has officially taken over the ownership of my Canon camera. So that day, she was just happily snapping pictures.

 But I got her to concentrate and pick some of the boxes as gifts to our friends.

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I prefer chocolates to candies and got this box of different-flavoured chocolates as well. Actually, I honestly think the packaging got me to part with my cash.

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So that night, we had our farewell dinner for our beloved friends whom we have met in Boston.

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They were family to us when we were all in a foreign land and naturally we grew close to one another. So that night, we had food, cakes, chocolates and laughter and sent them off with our blessing.

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So long, farewell! It’s time to say goodbye!

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Disclaimer: The family was invited to Sophisca’s media preview and were treated to complimentary goodie bags for the kids. However, items purchased as mentioned were from our own pocket.

Learning about work at Kidzania(SG)

I think we are among the last few people who have not visited Kidzania. It’s not a place that is on my list of places to visit for now because Faith is still so young. What could she learn from the experience? Would she enjoy herself?¬†The entrance fee itself is high and I needed to make sure that we will be spending our $$ wisely. Thankfully, our friend had won¬†passes for the adults and all we needed to spend on was the fee for the girl. So, in the end, we found our way to Kidzania (Sg).

It was the first Saturday of the year-end school holidays and we were expecting great crowd so I had braced myself for such a turnout. Managing expectations is important. Alas, we were taken by surprise that it was not THAT crowded!

It was this empty when we arrived and there was NO queue when we checked in. We were told that there was an event held earlier in the morning and that we should expect the participants to stay on. Okay!

The first thing the kids have to do is to open a bank account so that they could deposit their ‘hard-earned’ money into their account. We have not brought the girl to a bank before and she was clueless as to what to do. (-_Q) I actually found myself shouting to guide her from outside. So unglam.

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Her first job? Post woman! This is a relatively easy task and I think she would enjoy it.

All ready for the job yo! It’s good to visit Kidzania with a friend so that both can help and encourage each other. I suppose if Faith was to come alone, she would take a LONG time to warm up and participate.

Trust me, they had fun.

The next job that she went for was the dentist. It wasn’t her choice, really. We were just looking for the next possible job, one that would not require her to queue for too long. The queue for the dentist was one of the shorter ones because they were ending their previous round and would just need the next round of participants to queue for about 10 minutes which was decent.

So, I’ve learnt that one has to learn to play the waiting game at Kidzania. It’s truly training of patience.

The next job that Faith was willing to queue up for was a doctor in the A & E department. She must really wanted to learn about this role because she waited in line for about 20 minutes then and the whole session would take about 55 minutes. While she was learning about being a doctor, that was the best time for the adults to take a breather and have a bite at the eateries in Kidzania.

Before we could finish our meal, we were alerted that there was an ‘accident’ and had to quickly finish so that we could (ahem) rush to take pictures of our child at work. Faith was just playing the observing doctor throughout and I wasn’t sure what she was thinking about. Was she trying to make sense of the whole thing?

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This was a scene in which a hotel was on fire. And who came to the rescue? Fire fighters! This was interesting but unfortunately, the girl didn’t manage to be one.

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This was at Acting School. We asked Faith to go in since her friend was interested in this and also, it didn’t require us to wait. But, halfway through, she asked to come out because she basically wasn’t interested.

 

She would rather go and play soccer, seriously! In fact, she had requested for this for a few times! I was surprised by her interest!

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Four hours into role-play and I could totally sense the girl’s exhaustion. She had swimming lesson that morning and didn’t get to nap before going for Kidzania and I know she was going to get cranky soon. In the end, she chose a simple activity which was to shop at a supermarket although she wanted to be a cashier (not old enough).

 

The last activity before she got to spend her hard-earned money – kidZos – at the department store was to go on a tour around Kidzania which she needed to pay for. I guess this was a good ending!

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I’m glad we made it for this visit to Kidzania though I wasn’t so keen initially. I feel it is too young for a newly-minted 4YO to understand and fully maximise the time spent in Kidzania. I think it would make more sense for the older kids. Besides, there are other roles that have age and height limits. Nonetheless, it was a good experience. I got to observe how Faith behaved through the various roles and got to know her interests. For her, she learnt dental care from being a dentist (for example) and most importantly, she had fun.

I don’t forsee us going back soon but perhaps once a year? Many of my friends prefer to go to the ones in KL and Bangkok because of the cost. Maybe we could try that option too!

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To understand Kidzania (SG) a little more, I find this guide a comprehensive one.

It’s time to put up the Christmas decor!

It’s less than a month to Christmas and¬†boy, am I excited!

I love Christmas because it celebrates joy and peace on earth and it’s definitely a good opportunity to share with loved ones the reason for this season. Each year since Faith turned 2YO, we would do Christmas crafts together and displayed them around the house. This year, with the addition of Dan, things get a little more complicated and I think it’s better that¬†we make¬†do with ready-made decorations.

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The kind folks at Christmas Tree Singapore sent some of their products for us to try out which was absolutely timely. There were window stickers, a room decorating kit, ceiling decoration pack and a Pin the Nose Snowman Pack.

We didn’t lose any time in decorating Faith’s room with these products. Wanting to give some ownership to the girl, I got her to decide how she wanted to decorate the room with the decorating kit that comprises the following:

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We had to leave Dan out of this for the moment because it’s not age-appropriate for him? ūüėČ

She chose these graphics to be pasted on the wall and we are still thinking of how to incorporate the rest. Perhaps, we could use them for a Christmas party that is coming up in a few weeks’ time!

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Next, we worked on the snowflakes window stickers. I’ve decided to get both to decorate our common restroom with the stickers. This time round, Dan was involved and it was a simple but fun activity! We pasted some on the car windows as well and they really did give a nice feel during the ride!

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I love the Pin The Nose Snowman Pack the most because it’s a really fun and exciting game for the kids. Our family hosted CG (Cell Group) on one of the evenings and I set this up, much to the excitement of the kids. This game is simple. The kids will be blindfolded and each one is to find their way to the snowman’s nose (by the direction given by¬†the others) and pin their nose as near to his nose as possible.

That evening, there was so much laughter in the room! I really love this game. Simple yet so fun. Then the picture could be left on the wall, as part of the decoration of the room.

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We were left with this set of ceiling decoration which proved to be slightly difficult to put up. We would definitely need more adult help to put this up. I thought this will make a great Christmas decoration piece if we are having a home party. But be warned. Both the kids just want to pull down the cute graphics.

If you are thinking of some Christmas decoration, do browse Christmas Tree Singapore¬†for their available products. They have ¬†Christmas trees¬†as well and you might want to learn about the¬†types of Artificial Trees¬†available, just for info’s sake.

Lastly, hop on over to Floral Garage if you’re in for some flowers!

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Our family is gifted the above mentioned sets of Christmas decorations for review purposes. All pictures are ours unless otherwise stated. Opinions are our own. 

Christmas feel at the Flower Dome (Gardens by the Bay)

Christmas is approaching and if you want to catch the festive mood in rainy Singapore, there is a place you should go – Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay. It’s beautiful, I tell you!

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It was the beginning of the year end school holiday and while the men were at work, the wives decided to bring the kids out to experience Christmas cheer.

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Popo and the grandchildren

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You will get wowed by the display. Simply awesome and magical!

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Cocooned in a giant glass globe, a lovely ballerina beckons visitors to come forward, as a band of toy soldiers and an angelic choir join in the merry medley. (Source: Gardens by the Bay).

I was naturally excited and wanted to take pictures of the kids with the beautiful background. If you have kids, you will know that it is rather impossible to take a picture in which all the kids are smiling and with their eyes open. Oh well…

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To have a decent pic, one must snap quickly or else you risk getting photobombed!

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The whole troop. Remember to visit ya?

Little Genie box – School Readiness Program

Faith had very little concept of time. By that, I mean she couldn’t tell the days in order¬†and each day, she would ask me what we would be doing that day.¬†Her ‘last week’ is ‘yesterday’ and sometimes it could be a particular incident that had happened some time back.

I reckon it could be because she was a tad young to understand the concept but to be fair to her, I did not teach that concept explicitly. When her constant questioning did get to me, I resolved to teach her and that’s when Little Genie Box contacted me and asked if I wanted to try out their products. Very timely indeed!¬†Sure, why not?¬†I shared with them my concern and they recommended that I try out one of their topics for the School Readiness Program which aims to¬†prepare preschoolers to develop learning dispositions for classroom and school routines.

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Our box soon arrived and I was pleased when I saw the contents. It includes a lesson plan, two different types of calendar, a personalised weekly timetable, worksheets and relevant materials to complement the learning. The lesson plan is comprehensive and all I need is to follow the activities laid out in the plan.

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I wasted no time and started teaching Faith the days. I thought the print and the font size on some of the the materials could be larger since Faith was only 4 years old and went on to create a bigger version for her. Faith was eager to learn and attempt the task that was set out on the lesson plan. I was secretly happy, of course.

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Within a few weeks, she could name the days in the correct order (sigh, should have taught her earlier)¬†and¬†I went on to teach about the months based on the lesson plan. It was a bit more difficult for her but at least she has some ideas of the months now and could tell me which month her brother’s and her birthday fall on. The calendars provided in the box helped a lot in getting her to visualise the days, months and the weather.

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What I appreciate about the various activities is the fact that they are pitched at varying levels of difficulties. There are simple and more concrete ones like the one shown above and more difficult tasks which require Faith to spell for instance which she could not do at this current moment.

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Then, there is the timetable that saved me from Faith’s constant queries about the daily schedule. Having penned down the activities for the various days, she could then refer to the chart and eventually could tell me what she can expect for each day.

We have been working with the contents of this box for a few months now and consistency is key to Faith’s mastery of time. Perhaps, you might find that the activities could be easily created. I don’t disagree with you. However, finding the time to do so is the issue for most of us. I, for instance, have been procrastinating and could finally work on time with the preschooler when the box came along. Of course I did talk to her about the days and months but nothing beats working with the materials and this in turn, helps young children to store the necessary information in their memory.

Little Genie Box’s School Readiness Program features the following components:
:: Personal identity & introducing name
:: Handling emotions & relating to others
:: Understanding dates & use of the calendar
:: Personal safety & well-being
:: Reading time & following timetable
:: Responsibility with money & belongings

These are excellent topics to learn¬†for preschoolers and the knowledge would be extremely useful as they enter Primary Schools. Little Genie Box’s curriculum also includes Literacy program and Everyday Chinese. You might want to read about the review of the Everyday Chinese program here.

I would definitely continue to use the contents in the box to teach Faith about time. And if you are thinking of having some learning activities with your child during this year-end holiday, I would strongly recommend Little Genie Box. Bond and learn together with your child!

SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR READERS OF RAISING FAITH

Take advantage of this promotion! For every 6-month enrolment, you will receive a free award-winning book  that is worth up to $25 .
Simply key in the promo code ‘icanteachmychild’ on the enrollment form on their¬†website. This¬†promotion will last till 31st Dec 2016.

Disclaimer: We received a box of the School Readiness Program for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own. 

A letter to Faith on her 4th birthday

Dear Faith

You turn four years old today! Blessed birthday! Mama couldn’t help but be thankful for you because you are indeed one precious gift from God.

This past one year has been eventful. You were promoted to be a big sister to Dan and you did a wonderful job caring for him. Your love for him was evident. Each morning, when you awoke, you would look for him and spent the time after breakfast playing with him while Mama tried to get ready. You read to him and taught him skills that he would need. You encouraged and cheered for him when he reached his various milestones. No wonder Dan was so fond of you.

I remember I had a hard time adjusting to life with two kids when Dan was just a few weeks old and I was tough on you. I know you must have felt terrible and perhaps felt a sense of loss since you had to share Mama with Dan now.  And with so many of us giving our attention to him, you must have felt insecure. Thankfully, that period was over and as Mama learnt how to cope, things did get better.

This year, you got real chatty and must have asked a million whys. I must say Mama was exasperated and wish for more quietness at home. However, I also recognise that many of your questions are valid and you truly wanted to know more about yourself and the world you are living in. I only pray for more patience.

In March this year, I had the utmost privilege to lead you to invite Jesus into your life. What joy! Nothing is more important than this! From then on, you have been sensitive and extremely teachable on things above and asked questions pertaining to the Christian faith. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide you as you grow in your knowledge and love for Him.

Dear Faith, I want you to know that you have brought me much joy and love. Through you, I see how ugly and selfish I am as a person yet you have always extended your grace towards me, just like our heavenly Father. I love it when you say “It’s ok!”¬†to assure me that you are not upset when Mama has done something that could sadden you.

This year, you asked to celebrate your birthday in school and you were not particular about the type of cake or the design. “You decide” is what you told me and when I baked you a Hello Kitty lychee chiffon cake, you were cool about it. I know you are not ecstatic about Hello Kitty, but you would just let me bake that for you because you know Mama would not be free to design a special cake for you. Thank you for being so understanding.

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I wish you could stay at this age because I really did enjoy your company this past year. You were so teachable and were my little helper. I recall the many times that you wanted to help me juice, vacuum and mop the floor, bathe and feed Dan. When Papa had to come home late after BSF, you would wait patiently in the living room while I put Dan to bed. One of those nights, you fell asleep on the sofa while waiting for me and I couldn’t help but feel bad about leaving you alone. However, I’m assured that you are mature enough to be on your own and that Mama doesn’t always have to be with you.

Perhaps, the greatest compliment that I get from you was when I asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up. Your reply encouraged me so much. “I want to be a mom like you!” I must have done something right to warrant such a response!

Thank you, my little angel for being you. We have had many conversations and I love how you make me laugh. I thank God for the privilege to be able to see you grow and develop from the time you were born. May you continue to show great zest for life and be mindful of the things of God.

‚ÄúThe LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.‚ÄĚ Numbers 6:24-25

A World Full of Stories @ Playeum

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A World Full of Stories. How does that sound to you? This is Playeum’s current hands-on exhibition that is designed for children aged 1 to 12 years old. The exhibition provides environments and installations in which children can create their own stories and is certainly a space where they could let their imagination run wild.

Faith and I went down to take a look and I regretted not bringing Dan along.

Spaces within the exhibition

Story Cubes.¬†From far, this space looks like a maze that is made up of cube-shaped structures. The surfaces or panels are magnetic and this provides for opportunities for story-making using the materials that are found in the boxes. The children could pin the pictures onto the panel and create their own story. At the end of the maze is a book corner that is filled with some of the best story books for children. So, grab a book and let your imagination run wild. There’s even a tent where the children¬†can relax in as they read.

Creative use of the Story Cubes by Faith includes playing peek-a-boo, police and thief and …story-telling.

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Chalk Wall. I personally was enticed by this chalk wall. I mean, how often do you find such a wall nowadays? I got Faith over to draw a thing or two, to add on to the landscape that is drawn by cartoonist Cleo Ding.

 

Story Caves. One is a multi-sensory cave which appeals to younger children and the other is a Listen and Speak cave which encourages children to experiment with sound tubes, speaking cups, and echo-distortion mechanisms. Makes me think of my Science lessons during Primary School days. Faith had fun with the sound tubes and yes, you do need to get down on your feet to enjoy this space with them.

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Sandplay. Kinetic sand seems to be a hit with most children. They spent their time building sandcastles and decorating them with shells and pebbles. Faith was going on for about 30 minutes until I had to urge her to move on.

 

The Story Raft. A hit with boys especially, this space¬†encourages children to play ‘being at sea’ on a bamboo and rope raft with a flag-flying mast and rudder for steering. Children could also craft their own sea creatures and enjoy art activities to create their own marine environment.

Using chalk and water to paint on the glass door. Create a marine environment. Under the sea, under the sea.

Story Writing. So I wish Faith could pen a story. Fact is, she couldn’t. However, that did not stop her from attempting to write and post a letter. She was really focused on her task and spent much time writing letters and posting it in the end, hoping that the recipient would get it soon. Play-pretend at its best.

Puppet Making. There is a large space devoted to play making. Here, children are encouraged to create puppets using found and recycled materials. Children could make their own hand-puppets, finger puppets, spoon puppets, whatever, and after completing it, could even use them in a puppet show.

Faith loves craftwork and we really did spend quite a lot of time here, from choosing materials to working on a puppet. While the kid works, take a breather and be amazed by what they can create.

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We didn’t manage to play ‘dress up’ even though we have been in Playeum for two hours. I reckoned it would be a tad challenging for a 4YO to make her own costume for a fantasy character and discarded the idea. I could only imagine the fun older kids could have with the sewing machines and the hot glue gun in creating their own unique costumes.

We didn’t manage to¬†listen to stories read by some of Singapore’s finest storytellers at The Dark Space. This space showcases a specially commissioned storytelling film, where each of the five storytellers will be orating a story from a specific culture.¬†Faith was in it for a few minutes and went out, obviously attracted by the other stations.

A World Full of Stories exhibition opens to the public from 15 November 2016 until 30 April 2017. For a list of holiday programmes, please refer to this.

Playeum
Blk 47 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 109444

Safari Zoo Run is back!

2016 is coming to an end soon and I am looking forward to the new year and a whole new adventure with the family. And I am so excited that we will be participating in the Safari Zoo Run for the very first time next year.

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Safari Zoo Run was conceived to commemorate Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch and one of Singapore’s most loved animal personalities – Ah Meng the Sumatran orangutan, who died of old age in February 2008. Through this run, the zoo hopes to encourage family bonding and raise awareness on wildlife conservation.

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The theme for Safari Zoo Run 2017 is “Run for Wildlife” which focuses on raising awareness for wildlife conservation. Four animal icons will be featured – Ah Meng the Orangutan, Chawang the Asian Elephant, Canola the Manatee and Sunny the Hornbill. Each animal icon team supports an endangered wildlife species for which the zoo would like to raise awareness. We can do our part for wildlife by choosing an animal team to support and help raise awareness for them!

Date: 18 February 2017 (Saturday)
Time: 6am
Venue: Singapore Zoo, 80 Mandai Lake Road S729826

More information can be found on their website or facebook page.

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Of the various categories, our family would be signing up for the 2.5km Safari Zoo Family Dash in the hope of encouraging our 4YO girl to take up jogging as a form of exercise. When I told the hubs about this race, he was rather concerned. How could a 4YO run 2.5km? There would be much complaints for sure!

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Well, she may not be able to run all the way, might probably whine a little but we will be there to support and run alongside her, with her brother in tow.

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So, from now till the race day, 18 February 2017, we will be carving out time to run as a family, and at the same time, educating the little ones on wildlife conservation.Won’t you join us?

Do take advantage of the early bird sign up rates which is from now till 30 November 2016.

As a reader, you can further enjoy a 10% discount off the current rates when you register using the code SZR2017BGPRFAITH10. This unique code is valid from now till 15 January 2017 via www.safarizoo.run.

So, what are you waiting for? ūüėČ

Disclaimer: HiVelocity Events has kindly sponsored our family with the Safari Zoo Run Race Slots so that we could experience the race for ourselves and share it with the readers. No monetary compensation is involved and all opinions are my own. 

Appreciating da man in our lives

This post has been waiting to be published and finally I remember to do so.

I am writing this post to show a little appreciation to the man in our family.

If we scout the Internet for parenting-related articles, we will find that there are more articles that share about life as a mom, the changes that go through the mom’s body after giving birth and how much they need time off from the children, just to name a few. I’m not sure about you but at least these are the ones that appear more often on my FB feed and I’m immensely thankful to some of these articles because the writers encourage me in this parenting journey.

At times, I thought about the fathers. The kind of pressure they face at work and at home. How they feel coming back to a frustrated mom and cranky kids after a day at work. I tried asking da man about his thoughts but he would often shrug his shoulders and reply, “Work is work.” And nothing else.

I have to mention this bit of information about da man. Upon reaching home, he would help to shower the kids, spend some time with them before turning in for the day. And he does the night shift, just so that I could catch some sleep.

Surely, he’s tired.

So when Floral Garage approached me if I would want to receive a DIY room/party decor kit that is inclusive of DIY Decor items and faux flowers, I thought we could plan a surprise for da man.

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If you find the contents to be too feminine for da man, I don’t disagree with you. After all, it was initially meant to be used to decorate Faith’s room but I was thinking that the girl would be distracted by the beautiful decor items and would encounter problem falling asleep. So, we decided that we would work together to decorate the wall at the dining area so that when Papa comes back home, he would have a neat surprise!

The girl was obviously excited to be part of this plan and we decided to choose the word ‘LOVE’ on the wall. Using the washi tape provided in the box, I spelt out the word so that Faith could tape the faux flowers and leaves onto it. It’s a lot of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination work!

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I just want to warn you that this might take a full one or two hours, depending on how fast your kids work. Faith was really on the ball and did most of the decoration on her own while I prepared dinner.We did have problems with the pom poms though because we had to separate each piece of paper carefully. This really tested our patience! And we left out the tassels since we did not want to crowd the wall.

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Kids being kids, she got distracted in the process.

This is the completed wall, a simple one but filled with loads of love and effort, especially from the girl. This is a good craft activity and if you are planning for some birthday celebration and want to DIY, this kit will definitely come in useful!

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So, da man came back and.. didn’t show any sign of surprise at all! It’s life as usual for him. Grrr…but in the end, we had fun taking wefie against the backdrop. Creating memories, so they say.

After a few days, we took down the decor and I kept the faux flowers and leaves properly since I know I will reuse them.

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This DIY Floral Backdrop kit is part of Floral Garage‘s newly launched floral party decor category. If you are planning a party, you should definitely check out their party supplies page for relevant resources or consider their party packages!

If you would love to walk in, Floral Garage Sg is located at:
756 Upper Serangoon Road,#03-34,
Singapore 534626

Connect with Floral Garage via:
Facebook : Floral Garage Sg
Instagram : floralgaragesg
Email: floralgaragesg@gmail.com

Disclaimer: I received the kit for review purpose only. No monetary compensation is involved and all opinions are of my own.